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I’ll be busy studying some key innovation issues for the next week. I have assembled a crack project team with detailed skills to assist me with my research!

Way back in 2006, inspired by similar times, I wrote about how innovation thrives in the building of sandcastles!

It was a great post — and it made it into BusinessWeek. I thought it a fitting post to leave here while I’m busy immersed in my studies. With that, here’s my list of “10 Reasons Why Innovation Thrives in the Building of Sandcastles: and What We Can Learn From Such Creativity.”

  • Hierarchy has disappeared: In most cases, there isn’t a boss, a reporting structure, or anything else that can cause organizational sclerosis. People just pitch in and do what needs to be done. The lack of a hierarchy is implicit to most successful teams.
  • Creativity is implicit: Anyone can build a sandcastle. There are no rules or preconceived notions, other than some sand and water. The same thinking should drive corporate innovation efforts. Make do with what you’ve got and what you can find, and use creativity as your main asset.
  • If it doesn’t work the first time, do it again: It’s inevitable that a rogue wave will destroy your work. This only encourages you to fix the design, or rebuild it altogether. Setbacks are meaningless, and indeed, are part of the plan.
  • Experience doesn’t cloud insight: Parents listen to kids, kids get bored and move on to another rampart and do something awesome. The key to sandcastle building is the combined insight of several different generations: likely one of the most important foundations for success in corporate innovation today. (See my 10 Ideas post for more on this theme.)
  • Everyone picks up on the passion: People just join in and help to build. Eventually beach-neighbors join in, and the growing castle becomes a big collaborative effort. Organizations that can build similar levels of interest in the concept of innovation don’t simply succeed: they exceed!
  • Feedback is instant: You know right away how well your design works, particularly if it is at the waters edge, since everyone will make a comment on it as they walk by. That parallels’ the instantaneity of today’s markets: things are changing so fast, that you must have a constant ear tuned in to understand what your customers are telling you.
  • Competition is easily scoped: Need new ideas? Want to learn from the competition? Spend a few minutes walking up and down the beach and check out the other sandcastles. Study their design, their assumptions, and see how you can improve upon them. Do the same in the corporate world: develop a finely tuned radar that signals to you how and where your world is changing.
  • No idea is too dumb: There’s not a lot of criticism and bias in the building of sandcastles. Any idea is welcomed. People can contribute the skills they have. Everyone is a designer, a builder and an owner. Somehow the combination just works.
  • The reward is clear: At the end of the day, a great sandcastle provides a sense of accomplishment. Photos are taken, and the team talks about the experience. That’s why every innovation effort needs to be celebrated, highlighted, and championed into the corporate record.
  • It’s fun: Enough said. If an organization approaches a problem the same way, innovation and creativity can thrive.

When I spoke in Oman last November, I spent a little bit of my time on stage talking about artificial intelligence. It caught the attention of the folks from Gulf Construction, the most prestigious publication in the Middle East when it comes to the construction industry. They asked if I might put down my thoughts on the role, impact and timing of A.I. and robotics within the industry.

AI in construction? It’s simply the next step in the digitisation of the industry. As we go down the technology path, we follow its inevitable result.

 


AI In Construction – Massively Transformative
In an exclusive article for Gulf Construction, JIM CARROLL, futurist, trends and innovation expert, highlights the far-reaching impact of artificial intelligence on the construction industry.
Gulf Construction News, January 2019 (link)

Artificial intelligence (AI), the very phrase conjures up images of futuristic mechanical brains doing all kinds of intelligent work. Scare stories abound – AI and robots are going to take away all of our jobs! Science fiction scenarios paint a picture of enslaved humans being subjected to the evil whims of smart computer technology.

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As they say, timing is everything, particularly when it comes to the issue of getting involved in any particular trend. In the era of acceleration, it becomes even more critical. You’d better make sure you are ready with any trend of importance and relevance, because the future might happen before you know it.

I spend a lot of time on stage talking about the issue of timing on stage, particularly in the context of the “Gartner Hypecycle.” It’s been a key go-to on my client innovation guidance for well over 15 years. The interesting thing is that it’s really risen to the forefront in the last year, particularly as technology journalists have trie to explain the rise and fall of the BitCoin bubble.

The other thing about timing? The future is staggered and uneven – it doesn’t happen everywhere all at once. It’s phased by location, sector, and other discrete perspectives. Think about self=driving vehicles – we’ll see them happen in some ways faster, and in other ways, slower. I was in New Orleans, saw some crowded streets, and it was the perfect opportunity to talk about the issue of timing.

Any new technology, trend or idea goes along a curve – it appears, then hits the time of excessive hype and expectations. That is followed by the inevitable collapse of enthusiasm as people realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to implement the future, and determine the opportunity that comes from it. But inevitably, both the expectations, idea and capabilities mature, and the trend becomes a key component for innovation and so much more.

The timing issue? As Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired noted, “the future happens slowly, and then, all at once.” Any particular trend can bubble along for a time, seemingly inconsequential and of little impact. And then, all of a sudden, it can ‘go supernova’, explode in importance and significance – and suddenly, be everywhere!

That’s why my mantra to “think big, start small, scale fast” gives a key shoutout to timing. “Start small” implies that you should be on board with any particular trend, despite the potential immaturity it might have, because you want to make sure that you understand it, have experience with it, know how to work with it – and are ready to go when it “goes supernova!”

Simply put, megacities are the future. This results in new careers, new infrastructure, new innovation, new trends! Cities own the future, and the impact will be everywhere. One example? The acceleration of vertical farming concepts!

But there is a bigger trend at work here: and that is, by watching the big trends, you can discover how the essence of innovation within an industry is changing. With that, I bring you the impact of vertical farming.

Much of the vertical farming innovation is occurring in megacities, in Africa and elsewhere. Here’s a clip from December 2018, where I’m on stage at an agricultural conference, talking about vertical framing, desert farming, and floating cow farms!

Why does this trend matter? Because mega trends matter! Megatrends drive mega change, and no where is this seen than with the growth of urban cities. That’s trend #5 for today.

Watch the big trends, and you get a real sense of how the source of innovation is shifting. Such as within the world of agriculture.

Simply put, megacities are the future. This results in new careers, new infrastructure, new innovation, new trends! Cities own the future, and the impact will be everywhere. One example? The acceleration of vertical farming concepts!

Much of the vertical farming innovation is occurring in megacities, in Africa and elsewhere. Here’s a clip from December 2018, where I’m on stage at an agricultural conference, talking about vertical framing, desert farming, and floating cow farms!

Worldwide, there is a massive migration of urban populations to cities; the majority of the world’s population will live in less than 30 mega-cities by 2025. With that trend comes fascinating challenges with water, waste treatment, energy and other infrastructure. We can expect accelerating R&D in each of these fields as global society steps up to the challenge presented by ‘hyper-urbanization,’ and the birth of entire new lines of business involving “mega-city’ infrastructure support services.”

Why is this trend important? Because a lot of money will go into redefining these megacities for the future. Those trends will leak everywhere else… and so a farmer in Iowa will find that his or her future is, to a degree, being determined by the fact that a farmer in Ghana, Africa, will increasing be in a city, and will define one of the biggest trends in the world of farming.

There’s an important lesson in innovation from all of this – specifically, ‘your future might no longer be invented here!” It’s by watching the big trends, learning what they mean, and how they are accelerating change, that you can discover new pathways to the future!

“Reinvent. Relentlessly!” – #Futurist Jim Carroll

You always need to try to be a new you, because today is a different day. Maybe yesterday’s you won’t be good enough for the you that you need to be today!

Crazy message? Not really – as a species, we have never lived through a more dramatic period of fast paced change.

This stage shot? I’m at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, which celebrates the science, insight and inventions of one of the greatest minds of our time, Benjamin Franklin. What a fabulous setting for a dinner keynote a few months ago!

I was actually speaking at an innovation dinner awards celebration for Chemours, a leading global chemicals company. Called the 2018 Chemours Plunkett Awards, the evening celebrated key customers who had achieved breakthrough results through a focus on innovative and creative thinking.

I love awards dinners, and I’ve done quite a few over my 25 year speaking career! Let’s celebrate those who have done great things!

Part of my message to the audience was that continual reinvention though innovation is critical in today’s world. Products go out of date faster than ever before as product lifecycles collapse; fickle consumers can send a brand from hero to zero in moments; there is always a potential competitor around who is eager to ‘steal your lunch.’

So – reinvent!

Fun fact: it was the discovery of one single new chemical substance that permitted Apple to miniaturize the hard drive for the original Apple iPod, leading to the birth of a multi-billion market. Guess how many new chemical substances will be discovered in next 50 years? Billions!

Opportunity abounds in such a reality! This requires a mindset in which the ability to come up with new products is critical, and that is why we celebrate innovation heroes – like those who were in the room this particular evening.

Past glories won’t define your future success – so change yourself. Your track record from the past is irrelevant for the future if you don’t align yourself quickly to new realities. Your old success will not define your new success.

Your ability to reinvent yourself is the essence of your future being. Do it now!

#motivationalquotes #inspirationalquotes #speakerlife🎙 #innovation

BathFitter is a Canadian company that specializes in customized bathtub inserts – they’re an extremely successful company with an envious track record of growth.They know they can’t rest on their laurels thought, and so they are having me in this morning to keynote their annual franchise meeting.

The fun thing is that they tried to have me in way back in 2004, but I was already booked for an event. Using some rudimentary video tools, I filmed a clip from my bathtub at the time which they used to open up that event.

This morning, I’ll appear in person, but I’ve put together – with my awesome overseas editor Alex! – a 5 minute intro video that will be used before I come out on stage. It includes footage from my 2004 video.

In addition to this video, we filmed another pre-event video which was loaded into the customized mobile app they are using for their event. It plays into the key theme of my keynote – to get to the future, you need to invest in the future!

Do you want to spice up your event a bit in the same way, with highly customized event videos? Most keynote speakers will show up and give you a canned talk, and run away with your money with little effort. Not to disparage them, but that’s not me.

Get more for your investment, by reading what’s involved with these custom videos!

In December, I’ll keynote the DTN/Progressive Farmer Ag Summit in Chicago, with a look at the future of this sector.

I recently filmed two pre-event videos to give attendees a sneak peak. The agricultural sector has achieved much through constant innovation – but there is much more yet to come! Check out the statistics in this first video, and then expand your mind with the opportunities! For this particular video, I did some filming in the field. Literally! 

In this second, shorter preview video, I start out with ‘3 fun facts’ that you might not know about agriculture. Check it out!

Learn more about these pre-event videos here. These are proving to be a great hit with clients!

Here’s a clip you’ll need to get you thinking. I was brought in by a manufacturing company to speak at their global leadership meeting, with a predictive on key trends they need to align themselves to. And of course, I had to close with some guidance on what to do to deal with the reality of those trends.

The content was developed through very careful consultation with the CEO and leadership team, but its’ a good example of how I go from the trends to actual action plans.


Just over 18 months ago, I opened the annual meeting of the United Soybean Board in St. Louis, a group that represents most of the US soybean industry. I was on stage with a message for over 300 soybean farmers about opportunities for future growth. In addition, I spent 2 hours in a private session with the Board of Directors talking about opportunity. To see what I covered, read my blog post from my keynote “Accelerating Innovation: My Time With the United Soybean Board.”

We talked a lot about China and global markets as a big opportunity. Today, the industry is struggling with the fact that they while they spent a lot of time developing China a key market, the country has now targeted their beans with tariffs. They are in the front line of the new global trade war.

Who would have thought? Well, people vote, and votes matter.

With that in mind, watch this video from my good friend Jim Carroll – he’s the head of the Arkansas Soybean Board. Jim and I met when I spoke to this group. It’s a video message with his most recent update to his members – soybean farmers all of them – on their opportunities for innovation.

He’s talking about the same opportunities that I focused on in my keynote: new markets, using soybeans for new products and new opportunities (i.e. meal for fish farming in Egypt), sustainability – the whole idea of not selling ‘beans by the bushel’,’ but selling soybeans for use in different ways for different purposes. Did you know that Ford uses soybeans in seat cushions for cars? That’s an example of the type of innovative thinking occurring in the industry. Continue Reading

Right after 9/11, everyone predicted that we would see the end of meetings, events and conferences: people would recoil in fear, stop travelling, and cocoon at home.

That was the dumbest thing I ever heard, and I said so in a column I wrote for Successful Meetings, the voice of the global meetings and events industry. Titled “Get Real,” it was bang on with my of my comments and predictions.

Fast forward – technology is changing the hotel, meeting and event industry at a furious pace, and Successful Meetings just ran an article on these trends. It’s a great read. But its kind of fun that they start the article with y comments on the cautious speed fo technology in the sector.

Read the intro below, and read the full article here.


7 Hotel Tech Trends to Watch
Whether it’s chatbot concierges or self-check-in kiosks, hotels are getting smarter
by Ron Donoho | April 02, 2018

Robots. Facial recognition technology. Virtual and augmented reality. There’s a seemingly unending stream of cool tech tools flowing out of research-and-development centers and into all corners of the meeting and hospitality industries. It’s influencing hotel and event check-in processes, adding bells and whistles to guest rooms, and innovating meeting spaces. To borrow from Thomas Dolby, they’re blinding us with science.

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